These “Who is David” posts cover some relevant topics about my history and life outside my day job as a Technical Evangelist. It’s worth posting because a lot of what I am doing now ties back to where I came from. Before I moved to Minneapolis and switched to be a Technical Evangelist, I was a Senior Program Manager Lead on the Windows User Experience team. Basically, I helped to build some of the user experiences in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
What is the User Experience team? What do they do?
The User Experience team is a part of the Windows team that is dedicated to planning, designing and testing end-to-end user experiences. In Windows 8, the team collaborated with the rest of the Windows team to create the reimagined new UI that’s modern and also great for touch. It planned out new Start screen, charms, search and other UI elements like, switching between apps, picking files and settings. Outside of building UI in Windows, a big part of the User Experience team’s role was to work with the design and research teams to build the standard UI patterns, controls and models that persist across the entire experience. This can be designing the app layout and navigation, touch interaction and commanding patterns. I think it’s awesome that Microsoft dedicates an entire team of people to working to make the user experience consistent, predictable, fast and fluid and polished.
What is a program manager? What is a program manager lead?
When Steven Sinofsky was still working at Microsoft on Office he posted an awesome description of what it’s like to be a PM at Microsoft that’s worth checking out (ignore the 2005 technology examples, I don’t know anyone who still prototypes with VB.NET). I’m not going to try to compete with the depth of his write-up but the tl;dr is that a program manager is an engineer that plans out, writes specifications for, and drives refinements in a feature or a set of features in the product. As a program manager lead, I led a small team of program managers who worked on a related scenario. Besides coaching and evaluating the team, I was responsible for the scenario that spanned the PMs on my team. This meant working with the development and test leads to make sure the project finished on time with high quality, and making sure there weren’t any gaps in the experience due to how the team was sliced. The best part about my job was working with the awesome people on our team, every day I was amazed by the stuff they came up with.
What’s the story behind “dwcares”
Yeah, I know the “dwcares” moniker is kind of cheesy, but there’s a story behind it. At Microsoft we use a database for tracking all the bugs and unexpected behavior with the product while we’re developing it. Each bug is given a priority based upon its impact to the user. Something I’ve learned in the time that I worked on user experience is that some details really matter, even if they are small details. To make sure these that these details were right and we shipped a polished scenario I would tag bugs with the keyword “dwcares” so I could query and make sure they got fixed. My team had fun with it too, verbally tagging other non-product related things with “dwcares.” So when I started my blog, my team unanimously recommended dwcares.com as the domain name. J
What type of user experience stuff did you work on?
My team worked on the touch keyboard typing suggestions experience. From the user interface control, to the language model and engine that serves up the suggestions and auto-corrections experience. While necessary, these touch keyboard efficiencies are an area prone to vocal feedback, so it was definitely one of the most challenging and rewarding areas I’ve worked on, and I’m super excited about how it came out. I’ll let the product team speak to the changes in store for Windows 8.1. See the BUILD keynote video below to see the feature demoed!